Friday, March 21, 2014

A New Englander in the South

Go Sox!

Though this blog is mostly about our adjustment to moving back to the US after living abroad so many years, there's another adjustment that I'll have to make; living in the south. For those who don't know me well, I'm originally from Nashua, NH which is sort of an extended suburb of Boston. People south of the Mason-Dixon Line would refer to me as a Yankee but as a diehard Red Sox fan, I bristle at the thought of being described as the Y-word (though admittedly I have used it to describe myself on occasion).

I actually do have a little experience with the south and southerners in general and I have always been fond of both. I attended basic training with the Army back in 1990 at Ft. Dix, NJ and it seemed like 90% of the people in my company were from the south. They talked different, they acted different, they were just...different. The following summer I attended my job skill school for the Army at Ft. Gordon in Augusta, Georgia. We were allowed to go off base there and I went downtown to the mall a few times and it was a different world to me. People would just come up to you and say hi and start talking to you which is not something that happens where I'm from so I was suspicious of everyone until eventually it dawned on me that people in the south are just really friendly. The only time I can remember someone doing that back home was when my buddy Mike and I were having a pre-game beer at the Cask n Flagon outside Fenway Park and a couple guys approached us and struck up a conversation...turned out they were gay and were trying to pick us up.  

In 1995 some friends and I drove cross country to Las Vegas, traveling right through the south. There, I got my first real taste of how seriously southerners take their college football (recounted here: The Day I Almost Got Lynched in Tennessee ). My near-lynching notwithstanding, I thoroughly enjoyed driving through the south and experiencing a little of the culture. I definitely enjoyed experiencing the food. 

In 1996 a couple buddies and I drove down to Florida to catch a few Red Sox spring training games and on the way down we stopped and spent a day in Charleston, SC. I loved the city and the surroundings, it was very charming and surprisingly modern. I am definitely looking forward to exploring it some more. 

To be honest, I am really looking forward to living in South Carolina. Everything I've heard about it makes it sound like a good place to live and raise a family and the best part is that I will very, very rarely ever have to worry about snow. I have had a few people tell me that we may face some racism since my wife is Asian and our kids are mixed and it makes me wonder - is this really a problem in the US these days? I know I've been gone a long time but it just blows my mind to hear that there are still people who have a problem with couples of different ethnicities in this day and age. I personally have a hard time believing it and am not very worried about it but I have honestly had multiple people tell me to expect it. 

Before even stepping foot in our new home, here's my impression/expectation: it's 2014 and as much as people move around these days, someone from New England living in the south is probably no big deal to anyone. If I was moving to, say, rural Mississippi perhaps I might be worried. But South Carolina? There will be some culture shock to be sure but overall I think it will be an enjoyable adventure for me and the family. Besides, what is life without a little adventure, right?

So...anyone from the south or living in the south have any advice, suggestions or observations for us? If so, feel free to sound off!


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